Enterprise B2C marketers understand better than most the importance of having a clean and organized customer database. And with the massive amounts of data they’re dealing with, getting it to a point where it’s consolidated and easily accessible for marketing purposes can be a heavy, expensive lift.
Once your company has invested in the tools that can make that happen, though — whether that’s partnering with a modern data warehouse (like Snowflake, BigQuery or Redshift) or building out your own solution internally — how does your ESP fit into the data conversation? If you put all the time, money, and effort into organizing all your data, will your ESP be ready to help you take advantage of that? Or will it just stand as another obstacle that continues to make it difficult to fully utilize the tools you now have?
If you’re using a marketing cloud ESP, that data still has to find a way outside your firewall and up to the cloud in order for you to use it for marketing personalization. But a hybrid solution can give you the sending power of the cloud while sitting directly on top of your data. Here are the biggest benefits to connecting your ESP directly to your data:
Improved 1:1 personalization
When your ESP connects directly to your database, it’s able to get out of the way and just empower your marketing team to do the job it’s there to do.
With direct, real-time access to your customer data, your ability to personalize cross-channel messaging campaigns grows exponentially. Without an ESP standing between you and your data, you don’t have to make requests to use a new data point or worry about whether that awesome campaign idea you dreamed up is possible. If you’ve collected the data and have it in your database of record, it’s ready for you to use when you want to use it. No more “How do we get a new data field added?” or “How long will it take for the ESP to actually respond and then to get that done?”
When your ESP connects directly to your database, it’s able to get out of the way and just empower your marketing team to do the job it’s there to do — consistently deliver timely, relevant, and compelling content to your customers and prospects via the best channel for it. If you’re fortunate enough to have a company willing to invest in organizing these massive datasets, the last thing you need is to leave yourself another obstacle in the way. Connecting directly to the database is the way to make everything work in the way it’s meant to work, and to allow the marketing team to dream and do.
Significantly less I.T. involvement
No more treks over to the I.T. department in order to figure out if they have time to get that list together for you or if they can fix a broken feed.
Right now, what happens when the marketing team wants to cut a new list for a campaign? It likely involves going to the I.T. side of the house and talking to them about whether it meets security standards, how it can get done, and how long they can expect it to take. The more you do this — and the more painful it gets to do — the less inclined you are to walk over there again. You know you’re never going to be their first (or second) priority, and you may feel like you’re interrupting their work just by going over there.
But when your ESP connects directly to your database, I.T. involvement decreases significantly. Expedia has reported 50% less I.T. involvement in marketing messaging since their switch to Hybrid a few years ago. This means no more treks over to the I.T. department in order to figure out if they have time to get that list together for you or if they can fix a broken feed. Marketing can handle it themselves. And the time I.T. now doesn’t have to spend helping the marketing team, they can put toward other priorities, saving time and money across departments.
That efficiency brings costs down, not just for your team but for I.T. as well.
And that leads us to decreased costs. When time is money, inefficiencies are costly. Using a marketing cloud ESP creates a ton of them, from data lag to extra I.T. resource usage to time spent fiddling with operational tasks rather than strategic work. It can sometimes seem like the “Hurry up and wait” never ends. And all of that costs money. It’s sometimes hard to quantify how much, but a week you spend waiting for your ESP to respond to your email is a week you weren’t able to execute a campaign, and could be an opportunity lost. A day spent waiting for I.T. to come to the rescue is a day when you couldn’t pivot, and maybe your competitors could.
Those challenges go away with real-time data access, though. No more endless waiting. No frustrations at not being able to move as fast as you want or to execute the campaign you’re certain will deliver results. That efficiency brings costs down, not just for your team but for I.T. as well. And not only that, but you only pay once for data storage. With the marketing cloud ESPs, you have to store data in your database and then have the same data in the cloud for building campaigns. Why pay for both when you could only pay for one?
Customer data stays secure
No matter how secure your ESP may seem, trusting them with your customer data is a leap of faith.
Data breaches are a major problem these days for consumer-focused companies, and your data is never safer than when it’s behind your firewall. Every time you move data out to your ESP’s marketing cloud, the chances of a catastrophic breach increase. Once it’s out there, its security is essentially beyond your control. If your ESP’s security is compromised, your data that’s stored there may very well be too. And even if that happens and you end up safe, the perception from your customers could be negative if they know you use that marketing cloud ESP.
One of the reasons you invested in a consolidated database in the first place was security, and a direct connection to it enables you to keep the data your customers trust you with as safe as it can possibly be. No matter how secure your ESP may seem, trusting them with your customer data is a leap of faith. And it’s one that, in many cases, your I.T. team isn’t going to allow, especially when it comes to your most sensitive PII. With a direct connect and KMS encryption technology, though, you can meet even the most stringent security requirements.
Breaking down silos and getting your data in order has to be one of the key steps toward a personalized cross-channel marketing strategy. But another important step forward is partnering with an ESP that can connect directly to that data in order to empower you to take advantage of it.